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Bleeding is for Suckas

When I was 13, I got my period.

How exciting you say. Just like almost every other girl who ever existed.

But there's a catch.

I was 13 when I got my period, and had no mom. I had only a father who referred to any menstruation related products as "Sanitary Napkins".

I kid you not. It's taken me at least 15 years to get him to say "pad".

I had a stash of various pads and tampons stolen from other people's mothers, figuring that I needed to be prepared for when IT happened. I thought having one a day would be fine. I had read all about it at the library, and took the claims of "teaspoons" of blood seriously.

I know, I know. I don't believe it either. Stop laughing and keep reading.

And then it came, and I spent the majority of a morning writhing on the linoleum in the bathroom from cramps, the kind of cramps they tell you are similar to labor pains. That day, I decided to beg any and all gods to remove my ovaries and uterus. I wasn't going to use it anyway, and this kind of pain was just mean.

Eventually I picked myself off the floor, stuffed my mouth full of Motrin and made my way to school. Wearing light blue jeans, and my favorite loyalist days shirt. The one with the ruffle that my mother had made.

Everything was just fine until I coughed an hour into the day. Suddenly, it was like the gates had been opened, and it had been raining for days and days. I imagined blood was pouring off my chair and on to the floor. I thought about what I could do, where I could run.

Instead, I stared straight ahead and tried not to move. Not.An. Inch. No coughing, no talking, no nothing. I would wait until the end of class, and tie my coat around my waist. I knew that the evidence on light blue jeans would be too clear.

At the end of class, I stood up after everyone else had left, and felt that torrent begin. All I could do was let it happen-it's not like I could close my legs and keep it in. I ran from the room for recess, and hid in a corner by a window, my coat tight around my waist.

I was not the first student back into the room, and when I entered, I heard the boys sniggering and all the girls pointedly NOT looking in my direction. Suddenly, one of the louder, ore boorish boys yelled out,

"Mr.. Dubeau, we can't sit here-she BLED all over the chairs."

In my defense, I only bled on one of the chairs.

Everyone in the room started to howl, and I managed to cover the red/pink spectrum in under 20 seconds on my face. And still, I felt the blood between my legs. The teacher was helpless-he was male, and everyone thought he was gay. In grade 8, that's a death sentence. (he eventually was finished off by the class after us, who caused him to hurl a computer monitor out a closed window). So he did what any male teacher would do.

He sent me to see a female teacher.

Mrs.. Adams quietly took me aside, and began to explain a few things about my flow, and how to use pads. I had been dumbfounded the first time I stood in front of the aisles of "Feminine Products". Wings? Super Plus? I had no clue what anything really meant, and she kindly explained it to me. I watched her almost waver into pity, but she knew better. I was deeply embarrassed because I didn't know what I was doing, and had caused the problem. I wanted help, not a shoulder.

Besides which, Mrs.. Adams was the most feared teacher in my school. You did NOT fuck with this woman, who was all of 5 feet tall. So I sat and let her explain that part of the birds and the bees to me. Then, she called my Dad, which only made me feel worse. My FATHER was going to know about this, and be just as uncomfortable and embarrassed about it. I wanted to crawl under a rock.

I wanted outside for him. I couldn't bear to be in the school one more second. He came, and picked me up, and we drove home in silence. I cleaned up, tried what she had told me to do with the pads (double them up honey-some days are worse than others) and went back downstairs where he waited. The way back to school was silent as well, until we were almost there.

"I can't Dad. I can't go back. I'm so embarrassed.I bled all over a chair! Don't make me go back, please.."

My father stopped the car, and looked me full in the face.

"You have to go back. That's the only option here babe."

What he didn't say was what I heard in his eyes. That life has sucked for us, and this is just another in a long line of terrible, horrible no good things that might happen. That sometimes life hurts, a lot, and yet we have to soldier on. That he desperately wished my mother was there to make it all better, was there so he wouldn't have to tell his daughter to go back into school to a guaranteed roasting. That all his love couldn't make it better, and that this was what life was-doing what we don't want to do sometimes. And it hurt him too.

I knew I had to go back in. And I dreaded it like I had never dreaded anything ever before. But obviously, there had been "a talk". Likely a speech about being nice to the poor girl who had no mother. The offending chair was cleaned, but in my eyes, the stain never went away. I didn't look anyone in the eye. At first.

My father taught me one of the most important lessons I've ever learned that day-that we do the hard things sometimes because it's right, or it's the only way. Hell, I can even apply this to childbirth in some ways-the only way out, is THROUGH. More importantly, my father taught me that it's ok to be scared even when life requires something hard from us. That I'm human, and it's ok to feel, ok to be a girl. That losing my mother didn't mean I couldn't handle life.

Ironically, I also learned a valuable lesson about OB tampons from Mrs. Adams. Which, all told, may have been the most important lesson I've learned.

This happened to several girls in my class when I was in school, but interesting after a week or so of ribbing(especially when the teacher would say that we'd learn more about something in second period etc.), some of the guys actually started to like these girls more (probably because they associsted periods with sex.)

The one I feel the most bad for is the girl who got hers in 5th grade - I can't remeber who it was, so I'm assuming she was 11 or so. I know she freaked out completely and thought she was dying - apparently she hadn't had that "talk" yet.

It's wierd to think how little we knew about life back then - espeically when children in younger generation swere exposed to sickness, death, childbirth, sex and everything else at a much younger age, because it all happened in the house.

Glad you turned out OK!

Oh man, what a horrific experience. I was lucky in that I had an excellent sex ed -education, I went to school in Ont where the speel starts in 3rd grade.

Of course, my mother failed to teach me other, more important hygenic lessons that I was humiliated by others for. Meh.

Have you tried the DivaCup? I'm a total convert. So much easier.

I got my first period at 12, during sex ed class, of al places. We were working on a quiz when I felt and confirmed the gush.I flagged down my teacher to ask to be excused, she bent over my desk to hear what I was whispering and my 6th grade crush popped his head under her arm and heard me spit out the words.

I give him a lot of credit for not telling anyone AND for asking me if I was ok when I came from the nurse's office waddling because I had not learned to walk with a giant diaper between my legs.

The worst part for me was going home and telling my mom. She was a total froot loop about it, all "Oh you're a woman now" followed immediately by graphic lectures on how I could get pregnant. I ran outside with my tobaggan and stayed out sliding down the hill next to my house until it was dark.

I will have to blog about my expierience soon, it's a story much like yours, maybe a touch more OCD thrown in on my part.
It's so sad, and at the same time touching, how we all become women. I find it's much like childbirth,too, in the sense that everyone has a different story, even though we are all going through the same things.

been lurking for a while, but I had to comment. wow, this was a hard time for you and your dad. I have 3 boys and I secretly wanted a girl so that I could "right" the way my first period was handled. My mom made me go buy my own stuff and I remember buying a Newsweek at the commisary to cover up the tampons I just bought. I ran into a male teacher from school that very same moment. I wanted to melt into the floor. My favourite place in Jr. High was the Nurse's office. She was the mother we all wanted. You always knew the girls that were "on the rag" because we were all laying around the nurse's office chatting and having cookies passed around - that part was great. Is it better now in 2006? I hope so.

I'm thinking that most of us have the stories, but we never share them because we're STILL ashamed of them. It's stupid-it's so natural. It just felt good to get it out-it's also my entry for "Blogging for Books" at The Zero Boss.

I want to be the "perfect" mom for my girls when it happens, but I'm prepared for them to be all like "get OUT OF HERE!" when it happens.

Never tried the Diva Cup. Don't know if I could deal with that.

Hi Cathy! I love it when people delurk!

Wow, great post. Well done.

Periods just suck. And the poor girls who start early... It's like having someone take away part of your childhood.

I remember being really pissed when I first learned about menstruation. Like, WTF! Why do we have to go through this and guys don't?

And I started at 13. At school. And the reality was worse than I was prepared for.

Isn't always?

Oh this is a nightmare! I was lucky that I got mine at home but I was completely unprepared for what the reality was. I'd broken my hymen years before and thought that was a period. My mother was zero help as a period was somehow "dirty" and she refused to discuss it. So, like everything else, I just learned by experiencing it.

I had the kind of cramps that kept me off my feet for two days once every five weeks or so. Turned out to be fibroids (found that out when I was pregnant w/ Z).

Anywa, mine came the month after I'd turned 12. I used to have to wear two thick pads, end to end w/ some overlap b/c my mother wouldn't let me use a tampon. If I have to have periods, at least I have tampons! ;)

I have a mother. But when the time came, she never bought me pads or talked to me about it. I had to buy them with my allowance, steal them, borrow some, or use think rolled up wads of toilet paper. Probably the root of why I hate periods to this day. And why I wore long sweaters and dark pants to school all the time.

Sounds like you took away a pretty positive lesson from the whole experience, and I bet that makes you a stronger person today.

I was lucky to get mine during summer break, but I was only 9 so I had no idea what was going on. I thought I had somehow managed to scratch myself and kept waiting for the bleeding to stop! Although my mother was there for me, she had apparently not moved past the old-time pads you wore with belts. So that's what I wore for a couple of years before I discovered there were sticky pads and tampons available.

That anon comment was me. I hit the wrong button!

Oh GODS Missy-I fucking HATED the whole thing, still do. What a mess and the pain! NOTHING prepared me for that.

More than anything, I was never, ever ashamed of my period ever again. And I tend to be more frank than people are comfortable with, which I attribute to this. My father also told me that day 'Could it get any worse?"

Nope. Ok, the day I stained a chair at work sucked, but at least there were no boys around...

Really the Diva is a little awkward for a day or two, and then its so easy. My friend who has a heavy flow, really gushes over it. ;)

*off to play tennis in a field of daises now*

Seriously, I have to stop myself from accosting random women in the tampon aisle and telling them what they;re missing out on by not having a Diva.

I've shared my story before. I knew nothing at 11 when I started at school and thought I was bleeding to death. Thank heaven for school nurses.

I wrote a post today about the oldest girl and Depo. She has such a rough time - even misses school. We're going to try it and see what happens.

Forgot to say I remember the coat tied around my waist as well as turning my skirt around long enough to get out the door.

Dark clothes always. Other women may have dreaded menopause. Not I; I greeted it with open arms. Never a moment's trouble (at least so far).

I dunno man. That cup thing sounds weird.

Besides, now that I had the ablation, there's barely anything there. BOOYAH! :P

Granny-I don't know HOW women handled this when you were growing up. FREAKY!

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